Mounted Combat

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SOP Title Basic Armour Skills
Author Bud
Revision No. 1.1
Implementation Date 12 OCT 15
Last Review Date 12 OCT 15
Reviewed By Bud


Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) are an integral component of the land forces of any modern military power. It is a broad classification that encompasses a large variety of vehicle types, from Main Battle Tanks (MBT) to Armoured Recovery Vehicles.


This document will provide a basic understanding of the operational limits and employment strategies for AFV's used by the 39th Battalion.


In Order for an individual to be allowed to operate as an AFV crewman in formal operations, they first must have completed at the very least, the Armour Familiarization course.


Each crew role within a Vehicle comes with its responsibilities. It is up to each crewman to know what their role requires of them to ensure a fully functioning team and an efficient weapons platform.


The Commander of a vehicle is pivotal in coordinating the efforts of his crewmen, as well as communicating with friendly forces within the AO. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the weapons platform is the responsibility of the Commander.

The Commanders role includes-

  • Ensuring the survivability of the vehicle and its crew. This involves; directing the driver to suitable and protected firing positions, using the terrain to his advantage, strong communication with other forces within the AO to help understand all possible threats and knowing which threats to both engage and avoid.
  • Directing the driver to maintain platoon formation.
  • Directing the Gunner to engage priority targets. This involves; using proportional force against each target. The Commander should have the next target selected while the Gunner is engaging the current one, in order to increase the efficiency.
  • Making use of the instruments at his disposal. These include-
    • Smoke screen
    • Enhanced Optics
    • Radar
    • Turret mounted weaponry


The Gunners purpose is to operate the main and secondary weapons of the vehicle to engage targets.

The Gunner role includes-

  • Knowing their ammunition count and being conservative when expending rounds. This is vital in keeping the vehicle at a combat effective level for any prolonged deployment.
  • Using proportional force. Thus helping with ammo conservation.
  • Knowing the proper operation of their equipment. Every first shot should be landing on target.


The Drivers main function is to maneuver the vehicle with a focus on vehicle survival and weapon effectiveness.

The driver should always be considering-

  • The closest cover available for the vehicle. So as when needed, there will be no confusion in driving the vehicle to safety, be it a hull down or turret down position.
  • Fuel reserves. As to ensure the survival and operational effectiveness of the vehicle.
  • Terrain obstacles. The driver needs to know the limits of their vehicle, to ensure the vehicle takes no unnecessary damage or stoppages.
  • Vehicle Orientation. The driver needs to be aware of the most and least effective armour points of the vehicle to ensure that a threat is only ever targeting the strongest armour point of their vehicle.


The Loader is a non vital role that serves as another set of eyes and/or firebase of a vehicle.

The loaders main concerns are-

  • Searching for and reporting threats.
  • Providing additional fire support when directed by the commander.

Vehicle Specifications


An Australian M1A1

Weight: 62 tonnes
Length: 9.83 m
Width: 3.65 m
Height: 2.89 m
Crew: 4
Armor: Unknown

Main armament:
120 millimetre M256 Smooth Bore Cannon:
10 M830 Heat-FS rounds
30 M829A2 APFSDS-T rounds

Secondary armament:
2x 12.7 mm M2HB: 200 and 1000 rounds

2x 7.62 mm M240 machine gun:
10800 and 600 rounds

Engine: Gas Turbine Engine 1119 kW
Power/weight: 15.53 kW/tonne
Suspension: High-hardness-steel torsion bars with rotary shock absorbers
Operational range: 400+ km
Speed (land): 72 km/h
(Water): N/A km/h


An ASLAV 25.

Weight: 13.2 tonnes
Length: 6.53 m
Width: 2.62 m
Height: 2.69 m
Crew: 3 + 6 troops
Armor: Unknown

Main armament:
25 mm M242 Chain Gun:
420 rounds (210 APFSDS-T and 210 HEI-T)

Secondary armament:
7.62 mm MAG58 machine gun:
2000 rounds

7.62 mm M240 pintle mounted machine gun:
1400 rounds

Engine: Detroit Diesel 6V-53T 275 hp (205 kW)
Power/weight: 15.53 kW/tonne
Suspension: 8 wheel independent
Operational range: 660 km (410 mi)
Speed (land): 101 km/h
(Water): 17 km/h



Internal communication is to be conducted over the crew radio and in a manor that is direct and concise. This is achieved by addressing the crew member by role instead of that individuals name. This allows for quick information exchanges without accidentally addressing the wrong crew member.

e.g. If the Commander wanted the driver to take the next right and continue at the vehicles slow speed, they might say: "Driver, turn right onto the next right road. Continue at slow speed." The driver would then respond to let the commander know they received the order and understand what to do.

External communication are performed by the commander over the long-range radio on either the command net or or JTAC net channels. These communications are done in the standard command net RATEL.


When convoying with mixed vehicle types. It is procedure to have the vulnerable vehicles in the center of the convoy protected by AFV's at the front and if possible at the rear of the convoy section.


Formations are not intended to be rigid, with vehicles remaining a specific distance apart at every moment. The position of vehicle in the formation depends on the terrain and the ability of the wingman driver to maintain situational awareness in relation to the lead vehicle. At the same time, individual vehicles should always occupy the same relative position within a formation. This will ensure that the members of each crew know who is beside them, understand when and where to move, and are aware of when and where they will be expected to observe and direct fires. Weapons orientation for all vehicles should be adjusted to ensure optimum security based on the position of the platoon.


The column provides excellent control and fire to the flanks, but permits less fire to the front. It is used when speed is critical, when the platoon is moving through restrictive terrain on a specific route, and/or when enemy contact is not likely.

A platoon in column formation.

Staggered Column

The staggered column is a modified column formation with one section leading and one section trailing behind to provide coverage abilities on the flanks. The staggered column permits good fire to the front and flanks. It is used when speed is critical, when there is a limited area for lateral dispersion, and/or when enemy contact is possible.

A platoon in open column formation.


The wedge permits excellent firepower to the front and good firepower to the flanks. It is the standard movement formation the enemy whereabouts is generally unclear. The trailing vehicle has the option to switch flanks to provide more firepower where it is needed.

A platoon in wedge formation.


The line formation provides maximum firepower forward and minimum firepower to the flanks. It is used when crossing wide terrain towards a known enemy strong-point whilst expecting minimal contacts from the flanks.

A platoon in wedge formation.


The coil is a defensive formation used to establish a perimeter defense during extended halts or lulls in combat. The lead vehicle, normally the platoon leader, will halt his vehicle in the direction of travel (12 o'clock) while the other vehicles position themselves to form a circular formation covering all suspected enemy avenues of approach.

A platoon in wedge formation.


The herringbone is a defensive formation, used when the platoon must assume a hasty defense with 360-degree security while remaining postured to resume movement in the direction of travel. It is normally employed during scheduled or unscheduled halts in a road march. If terrain permits, vehicles should move off the road and stop at a 45-degree angle, allowing passage of vehicles through the center of the formation.

A platoon in wedge formation.


Formation images and information taken from:
M1A1 image and information taken from:
ASLAV A2 image and information taken from:
M1A1 information taken from:


AFV - Armoured fighting vehicle
APC - Armoured personnel carrier
APFSDS-T - Armour piercing, fin stabilized, discarding sabot, tracer
HEI-T - High explosive incendiary, tracer
IFV - Infantry fighting vehicle
JTAC - Joint terminal attack controller
MBT - Main battle tank
RATEL - Radio-teliphon